Wednesday 31 August 2016

A partly cloudy morning, but warm in the light breeze.

I carried out the 10th and final full patch visit of August this morning, finding a good total of bird species, with 49 seen or heard in all. Highlight of the visit was watching my first SEDGE WARBLER (98,66) since 2014 feeding in the last nettle bed that remains at the Greenhouse Grounds. A close second in the highlight ratings was finding 2 WHINCHATS at Migrant Alley, where a YELLOW WAGTAIL was also seen and heard as it flew over.

A decent selection of other Summer bird species were found, with CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, COMMON WHITETHROAT, LESSER WHITETHROAT, HOUSE MARTIN, SWALLOW and a HOBBY, which almost took my head off as it pursued the Swallows over the ashes Lane fields! SPARROWHAWK, 2 KESTRELS and 2 BUZZARDS made it another 4 Raptor species day.

Flyovers from GREY HERON, HERRING GULL and and a pair of CORMORANTS, plus a LITTLE OWL that called from the Small holding area all helped the day list along, which could well of got to over 50 if the Geese species had flown over as they have done on recent visits, plus the Long Tailed Tit and Songthrush had shown up!

So the month ended on 66 species, a very, very disappointing tally indeed, in 9th position out of 15 it is the worst August total since 2007, which was the last time an August tally didn't reach 70 species. The mean average tally for the previous 5 Augusts is 74, while the 15 year combined August total is at 102 species, that was incremented by one this August with the Ring Necked parakeet,........ but I never did find a Mistlethrush for this month, the first time it has not appeared on a monthly total in the 15 years of recording here.

Nothing for the camera today, despite waiting for ages for the Sedge warbler to show properly, as for the Whinchats, they were no way approachable!

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Dense fog enveloped the area this morning, but once it cleared the day became sunny and warm.

With the fog not clearing until almost 10:00hrs, there was very little of note to see on my patch visit this morning, just a YELLOW WAGTAIL that flew over calling and a SAND MARTIN that sat among the SWALLOWS on the Greenhouses.

Once the fog had cleared I walked the edge of the Wet Woods looking for dragonflies where a lone Brown Hawker, 2 Common Darters and a nicely posing Migrant Hawker were seen.

As I looked for Dragonflies, I kept my eye on the sky and watched 29 CANADA GEESE fly past, with a single GREYLAG among them, plus four Raptor species were seen up hunting - BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL and a smart HOBBY.

This Migrant Hawker sat for ages, allowing me ever closer images of it

Monday 29 August 2016

A partly cloudy morning with light winds and sunny spells.

I made a full patch walk this morning, finding 44 bird species in all, which is a little disappointing for August. The semi regular species of Treecreeper and Songthrush were not seen today, plus the Mistlethrushes still don't want to visit Pittswood this month!

KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD were all recorded, plus the Summer species of SWALLOW, HOUSE MARTIN, BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF, COMMON WHITETHROAT and LESSER WHITETHROAT, the latter looking superb in fresh moult, were all on the list this morning. A LITTLE OWL called from the Small Hoding area.

The only flyovers came from a few HERRING GULLS and 5 CANADA GEESE.

No luck with my camera today, the only images I hve left in the 'Blog Folder' are of a couple of Herring Gulls, taken last week at Rye Harbour.

Immature Herring Gull

Saturday 27 August 2016

Another fine, late Summers day, although a bit more comfortable than of late.

A visit to Migrant Alley yesterday evening provided a couple of noteworthy sightings, first off a couple of SWIFTS were seen wheeling around, with around 100 SWALLOWS, but the real surprise was finding a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (97,63) the first of the year, and probably the last!

There was no sign of the Spotted flycatcher this morning, however there were again a few bits of note around Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds, with the latter holding a flock of around 40-50 GREENFINCH and 50-60 GOLDFINCH, as well as the odd CHIFFCHAFF, WHITETHROAT, WILLOW WARBLER and BLACKCAP.

A couple of Yellow wagtails were seen on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, with at least 2 more heard flying over. I also saw a flock of 8-10 MANDARIN DUCK (64) fly over the Greenhouses, one more for the months list  :-)

Chiffchaff at the Greenhouse Ground this morning.

Friday 26 August 2016

After a bit of morning rain, the sky cleared and the day became hot, humid and sunny again.

There were a few more of the ''Summer'' birds about today, with GARDEN WARBLER at both the Scrubby Woods and Greenhouse Grounds, where there was also a WILLOW WARBLER, which gave some quiet song, as well as a WHITETHROAT. There were BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF also seen and heard to sing at both the scrubby Woods and the Greenhouse Grounds.

HOUSE MARTIN, SWALLOW and a couple more YELLOW WAGTAILS were seen over Migrant Alley, rounding it up for the summer birds.

KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD represented the raptor species this morning, but HERRING GULL was the only Larid species seen today.

All the woodland regulars, the pick being; GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, STOCK DOVE, JAY, GREEN WOODPECKER, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, the four TIT species and four Finch species and SONGTHRUSH, all turned out today, just the Mistlethrush continues to evade the August list, a list that looks like its going to be the worst August tally since 2004, when visits were fewer due to me working.

LINNET and PIED WAGTAIL made up the farmland passerines, in a day list that only reached 43.

There was little photographic opportunity, but I have got a few 'blog brighteners' from my trip to Rye Harbour on Wednesday to post.

Common Sandpiper


Immature Linnet

Thursday 25 August 2016

Hot, humid and sunny weather predominated the last couple of days.

After a trip out to Rye Harbour yesterday, today's patch visit was restricted, due to other engagements during the day. I had a quick look around Migrant Alley early on, where a couple of YELLOW WAGTAIL were noted fleeing the paddocks. A WHITETHROAT was seen in the boundary hedge line bordering the Greenhouse Grounds, where at least 45 GOLDFINCHES fed on the surviving thistle heads, the vast majority being immature birds.

KESTREL, BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK and a SWALLOW chasing HOBBY were all seen, during a brief sky watch.

Immature Goldfinch

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Dense fog didn't clear until 09:30 hrs, after which it became sunny and very warm.

I was wasting my time this morning, as nothing was found in the foggy conditions - unsurprisingly! Once the fog lifted it became very warm and humid, not ideal for birding, all I saw of note was the KESTREL, a HOBBY chasing the SWALLOWS, and a BUZZARD displaying over the Ashes Lane Fields, reveling in the clear blue skies, enjoying the fine weather.  Suck on that you gun loving gamekeepers!!

The warm sunshine proved to be ideal for Dragons though, and a hot and sticky couple of hours were spent tracking them down and photographing them  :-)

Migrant Hawker.This was the first shot of 100 images I took of this individual.

It moved off and alighted on a pleasing perch - a ripening Blackberry

Where it sat and basked in the sunshine.

This looks to be an immature male, ive not noticed the abdomen on other immature males look so purple in colour before.

Monday 22 August 2016

Early rain moved through by 09:00hrs, leaving a mostly sunny, if windy afternoon.

A four hour full patch walk today produced an ok total of 45 bird species, a KINGFISHER (62) seen at the lakes was the first this month, and proved to be one of two highlights of the visit.

Pheasant, Songthrush and Whitethroat were not recorded today, when they could have been expected to show, nor was the Mistlethrush that still eludes the August list.


The Ashes Lane Fields provided highlight number two of the visit when a SAND MARTIN flew among the local SWALLOWS, the only other Summer species seen today were a few HOUSE MARTINS moving through.

A heavily disturbed Migrant Alley provided little of note, nor did a visit to the equally heavily disturbed Greenhouse Grouse Grounds. My sky watch provided the three local Raptor species of BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK, plus three Larid species of HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL, it was a shortened sky watch however, as there is a limit to my tolerance of the continued noisy power tools used to de-biodiversify ( is there such a word?) the nearby Greenhouse Grounds, plus the noise of the building work at the new secondary school that is being finished off next to Migrant Alley, as well as numerous flyovers of light aircraft, that bleedin' Spitfire and numerous circuits of a Chinook helicopter!

How I envy my wife who is presently away on the isle of Iona, I asked her to keep an eye on any houses for sale there!

Saturday 20 August 2016

Heavy blustery showers blew through on a strong SW wind throughout the day.

Not much birding was done in the conditions, just a couple of circuits of Migrant Alley were made, but it was worth the effort as the Autumns first WHEATEAR (61) was seen on one of the paddocks, a species that had been expected, but which has proved scarcer than I had anticipated.

SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL enjoyed hunting in the blustery weather.

Friday 19 August 2016

Intermittent rain fell throughout the day, some light, some heavy, it remained warm however in light winds.

Just a couple of short trips around Migrant Alley were made this morning, where nothing at all of note was found out in the fields. At the Greenhouse Grounds I counted 48 SWALLOWS sitting on one of the Greenhouses, these were all stirred into action by a passing SPARROWHAWK, which they saw off noisily, but within seconds a HOBBY had swooped in, that too was soon chased off by the angry flock. A BUZZARD was of course soaring not too far away, plus a KESTREL sat on one of the telephone poles along ashes Lane.

Later this afternoon, whilst making tea, I heard the raucous calls of a RING NECKED PARAKEET (60) I rushed out into the garden, but standing in the rain, couldn't locate the bird, despite it calling for a few minutes; At last the August list hits the 60 species mark!

Thursday 18 August 2016

High cloud for most of the day gave some hazy sunshine at times, when it felt warm and humid in light winds.

Once again I made a trip around the Ashes Lane Fields, Pub Field and Migrant Alley to look for passage migrant birds, in the process finding another WHINCHAT at migrant Alley, the third already this Autumn, but where are the Wheatears ?

Long spells of sky watching were also had, where I recorded HOBBY, BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK for the raptors, and HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL for the Larids. Four CANADA GEESE were the only other flyovers of note.

SWALLOW, HOUSE MARTIN, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and COMMON WHITETHROAT were the only other Summer birds seen this morning.

This looks to be one of the four Kestrels raised here this year

This Common Blue Butterfly was just the second recorded this year, farmer Giles has seen to it that most of the Butterfly habitat has been removed from Pittswood now :-)

Common Blue Butterfly

Wednesday 17 August 2016

A perfect late Summers day provided wall to wall sunshine, with just a light breeze.

A busy day had me starting off with a walk around migrant Alley, where I was fortunate enough to find my second WHINCHAT of the year.

Later in the morning I joined a friend and visited Bough Beech Reservoir, where it was pretty quiet, not much action there apart from a few Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper of any real note. I photographed a Brown Hawker Dragonfly whilst there, as usual with these big hawkers it was not in the best positon but provided good enough images for a few blog brighteners!

Brown Hawker

After the reservoir, we took a walk along the River Medway, mainly to look for Dragonflies, lots more Brown hawkers were seen but none settled for a photograph. Whilst there we found another two Whinchats in a bean crop, superb little birds  :-)

Few Butterflies were seen along the rivers edge, but this Brown Argus was photographed as it fed on the Tansy flowers.

There was still time in the day for a quick sky watch back on my patch at Migrant Alley, where I added CORMORANT (59) to the months list.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

In similar weather to yesterday, I carried out a full patch walk this morning, where an excellent tally of 50 bird species were found, it's been quite a few months since the 50 species total has been reached!

One of those species, the YELLOW WAGTAIL (58), that flew over Migrant Alley, was new for the months species list, which still is rooted in last place out the 15 Augusts recorded so far.

It was good to find a mix of migrant birds at the drainage ditch that runs through the Ashes Lane Fields, with BLACKCAP, LESSER WHITETHROAT, COMMON WHITETHROAT, WILLOW WARBLER and CHIFFCHAFF all seen there.

Still no Mistlethrush for the August list, but all the other regular patch breeders were found in the Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods between them. A GREY HERON was on one of the lakes, the first thing of note on the water for weeks!

Once again BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were seen up hunting, plus BLACK HEADED GULL and HERRING GULL were seen flying over, as well single HOUSE MARTIN and SKYLARK.

Monday 15 August 2016

Variable amounts of cloud drifted over today, but it remained mostly sunny with a moderate breeze.

Another walk of the fields and paddocks this morning didn't reveal too much migrant activity, just a GARDEN WARBLER utilising the same Elder tree as the Lesser Whitethroats had done yesterday. BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL were all seen up hunting over the area, plus a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and a few HERRING GULLS flew over, as did a pair of GREY HERON. No sign of my first Mistlethrush of the month still, the only Pittswood breeding species yet to be added to the August list.

A WILLOW WARBLER was singing from my Elder Tree just as I left home for my morning walk, a song much missed from much of South East England now-a-days.

This Migrant Hawker posed for me today, the only images I did get!

Sunday 14 August 2016

Initial cloud cover slowly broke throughout the morning, giving a warm and sunny afternoon, with a light variable wind.

I undertook the 5th full patch walk of the month this morning, in which I recorded 44 bird species, a bit below par for an August day, although Sparrowhawk and Mistlethrush were the only regular local species not recorded, in fact the latter has still to be added to the August list.

Only one species was added to the months list, that was the WILLOW WARBLER (57), seen in the Scrubby Woods, another species in a growing list of those Summer birds that are now locally extinct as breeding birds, todays record is just the second of the year.

The Scrubby Woods was by far the busier of the habitats on my patch, not surprising, as it isn't owned by a farmer!  Among the maturing Oaks, burgeoning Bramble and dense undergrowth I saw, as well as the above mentioned Willow Warbler;  BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, GREENFINCH, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, JAY, STOCK DOVE, COLLARED DOVE, WOODPIGEON, GREEN WOODPECKER and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

Three COMMON WHITETHROATS and two LESSER WHITETHROATS were seen along the drainage ditch at the Ashes Lane Fields, they were feeding in a well stocked Elder bush, odds on that the bush will be pulverised over the Autumn along with the ditch vegetation, as the tidy brigade set to work, just part of the countryside management though, so thats ok  :-)

BUZZARD and KESTREL were the only Raptor species seen today, unless I count the LITTLE OWL that was calling from the Small Holding area. No sign of any new migrants at Migrant Alley, but there's lots of time left yet for something to drop in.

Saturday 13 August 2016

It was sunny and bright this morning, before clouding over briefly around midday.

Once again, a walk around the Ashes Lane Fields, Pub Field, Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds was made today, but no passage migrants were found, I am quietly confident of eventually finding a visiting Wheatear though, just a matter of time. There were plenty of SWALLOW families about, but they still elude my efforts photograph them, however, the PIED WAGTAILS that get continually chased about by the Swallows did pose for me. In among the Swallows and Pied Wagtails a flock of 9 LINNETS were also seen, while up above, a HOBBY was seen again, as were a couple of BUZZARDS and a KESTREL.

A CHIFFCHAFF and three WHITETHROATS were the best of what was at the Greenhouse Grounds, where a flock of 18 GOLDFINCH fed on thistle heads, most of them immature birds.

Pied Wagtail, on the lookout for those pesky swallows!

Whitethroat at the Greenhouse Grounds.

Friday 12 August 2016

The day dawned clear and sunny, staying that way throughout, although an annoyingly gusty Southerly wind developed by late morning.

I spent a little under four hours walking the Ashes Lane Fields, Pub Field, and Migrant Alley, hoping for a sign that Autumn migration was under way, and today it came, when I found the years first WHINCHAT (96,56), a lovely pristine female, at migrant alley, ( where else!) In fact the bird found me, it flew in low across the sheep pasture, alighting on a fence line some 50m away as I stood trying and failing to photograph the 20-30 SWALLOWS that were lined up on the same fence. So despite the diminishing habitat and heavy disturbance at Migrant Alley, the Whinchats still pass through here, they can still be found if i'm out early enough, although not in quite the numbers they used to, nor do they stay for as long as they used to.

Not quite a Whinchat, but this WREN posed nicely for me

There was also a WHITETHROAT seen in the nearby ''pretend'' hedgerow, a passage bird no doubt, however that was my lot for the day migrant wise, apart from a couple of CHIFFCHAFFS seen in the Greenhouse Grounds boundary hedge.

SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD, KESTREL and HOBBY were all noted up hunting, always good to get a four Raptor species day  :-).

A look for Dragonflies proved a bit disappointing, despite the fine weather I saw only a couple of Southern Hawkers, half a dozen Migrant hawkers and half a dozen Common Darters, only the latter perching kindly for the camera.

Common Darter

Thursday 11 August 2016

This morning was overcast, with a cool westerly wind, it brightened for a while by mid afternoon.

I spent a little over two hours walking the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley first thing this morning, hoping to find the first Whinchat of the year, or maybe one of the other more common migrants that pass through there in the Autumn, but I drew a blank on that score. I did however find the years second only GARDEN WARBLER (55) record, one was seen feeding on a small bunch of Blackberries in the hedgerow bordering Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds.

Other notables seen were; flyover HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL, a few passage HOUSE MARTINS, plus the three resident raptor species, BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK, the latter of which was escorted from the area by at least 30 irate SWALLOWS!

Wednesday 10 August 2016

A cloudy start to the day with a cool feeling wind, but the afternoon brightened up nicely.

The only bird species of any real note was heard in the early hours, - a TAWNY OWL (54), nice to get one on the August list  :-)  A LITTLE OWL was heard calling from the Small Holding this afternoon whilst I was in my garden, but my patch visit this morning was very quiet, nothing to mention of note, except maybe the passage of a few HOUSE MARTINS.

The only photo I took was of this Speckled Wood Butterfly.

Yesterday I had a trip to Sevenoaks family picnic wildlife reserve to photograph some dragonflies. I found a few nice Ruddy Darters.

Ruddy Darter

Tuesday 9 August 2016

More sunshine on offer today, although it felt a bit chilly in the breeze first thing.

The fourth full patch walk of the month was undertaken today, which proved to be an average affair, with 43 bird species seen, none of which were additions to the month or year lists. The most notable sightings were the KESTREL family, 5 of which were up hunting together over the recently cut Ashes Lane Fields, plus a LESSER WHITETHROAT that was in some rough at the bottom of a garden along Ashes Lane. Few other Summer species were seen, just the local SWALLOWS, a few BLACKCAPS, 2 CHIFFCHAFFS, 3 COMMON WHITETHROATS and a flyover of 6 HOUSE MARTINS.

Just about all of the sometimes hard to find species were found in the Wet Woods / Scrubby Woods, those being GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAt SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, STOCK DOVE, JAY and SONGTHRUSH, only the Mistlethrush was missing today.

One of the five KESTRELS seen today

Female Southern Hawker, a male was also present

Migrant Hawkers were also seen